At the outset, I must thank my friend Sudhir, for booking the tickets and taking me to the movie. But for him, I’d not be writing this.
First off, this is not a review of the movie. I dont ever remember having reviewed a movie – and I find myself faltering even at the thought of doing so. This is my personal take on what the film – it’s storyline, cinematography and artistic elements – speaks of the age of maturity in Tamil cinema.
Ages ago, a film without at least 3 dance-numbers was hardly imagined – and for people who imagined stories like that, producers shook their heads. We’ve come a long way from that – but still, you know, there are elements of a film that are going to be here for long.
Mouna Guru, if there was one word I’d pick to describe, would be described as different.
It’s not just about songs, usual commercial elements and stuff, though. It would still be a great flick, commercially!! But there’s something about the film that speaks a very positive tale of Kollywood storylines – and that is precisely what prompts me to write this.
Let’s start from where movies usually start – script.
Scripting A Thriller – Without the Side-effects
Thrillers are not new to Tamil cinema. But thrillers of the MounaGuru type are.
Think about Easan, or Yudham Sei, or if you remember, Satham Podaadhe. These are not commercial flicks in the “commericial” way of speaking but these films are commercial-material for sure. MounaGuru is standing proof that Tamil cinema is breeding it’s own master storytellers who can produce storylines that are not only gripping – but are well adapted to our culture, demography and taste.
One negative aspect of Tamil cinema has been adrenaline-triggered storylines which often defy logic, commonsense or physics or all of them. But tales like MounaGuru are those little blobs of positivism in story-telling that are truly realistic.
The Integral Factor – Music
I have been trained in music for sometime so I tend to hear the film than see it. Thaman had already made one of the finest impressions in me with his score for a documentary (Mittai Veedu, directed by Balaji Mohan). His score has this strength, and life, that is often found wanting in many of the present-crop composers. As the movie began, music took me by surprise. In these modern times when appreciation for background scores has become prevalent and common, Thaman is surely going to make a huge mark in the industry – or at least, I hope so. We need thinkers like him amongst composers.
That’s another wonderful part of storytelling that has continuously grown in its magnificence and subtler aspects. While the big-banner films with their big-banner composers still remain the often-spoken about, films like Nadodigal (music director, Sundar C Babu) have proved that the background-score of a film is definiltey witnessing a revolution in terms of ethnicity and importance.
MounaGuru’s songs are not widely different or unique – or perhaps, they did not register a chime in me – but the background-score is definitely a work that should be commended. There are ample silences – and there are ample sounds at apt frames.
Hero Is Not Superhuman
Now, this simple aspect, we’ve all been missing for decades. Heros take on dozens of well-built goons single-handedly. A very normal Sam Anderson (the Tamil guy) is far more powerful than your Superman – and we’ve been quite okay with it for all this time. It was time realistic protagonists came up on the screen, right? No. We are still quite far from that part of maturity in film-making – but of late, there have been enough movies in Tamil cinema to put things in perspective… a normal human becomes the protagonist – so you find the hero of MounaGuru getting overpowered by the bad guys easily in many places.
And oh yes, I think the gun-shots stopped with about 8 or so bullets in one scene where the hero shoots at the bad guys. Usually, in our films, a normal service-issue pistol is made to shoot unlimited rounds of bullets (or until a twist in the fight-scene is required, when suddenly, after about 20 rounds, the magazine goes “prematurely” empty!)
Cinematography – A Poetry On Its Own
There is nothing immediately stunning about the cinematography – but it sure is different from what one would usually expect. Sudden glimpses of poetic or artistic angles are frequently seen. There aren’t many locations to shoot in the movie – the script does not require them – but whatever locale has been captured, has been done so artistically.
Realism is good. Gripping realism is better. A thriller with a gripping realistic base is far better. It is little things like these that made me like MounaGuru.
But it’s a film with real and obvious problems of its own, too. Arulnidhi has certainly matured from his previous venture – but a lot is left undone in his acting. And then there is Iniya – whose potential to portray has been largely left untapped – especially in comparison to her abilities showcased in Vaagai Sooda Vaa.
I have a strong feeling of disapproval when very potential comic actors (or the good guys) take up the negative roles and perform excellently. The dislike that arises when such things happen is a proof of the excellent performance by the actor in question – and John Vijay definitely hit the right chord. His team of villains was a perfect one – with each one adding as much emotion as is required to make it look very real.
Of all the things I liked, it was Uma Riaz Khan’s character itself and the meticuluous portrayal.
I’d like MounaGuru to stand as an example for the way Tamil cinema has matured over the past few years – as compared to decades of commercialism with infrequent masterpieces here and there.